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Philips Fidelio L1 - Sound Quality, Value and Verdict

Andrew Williams

By Andrew Williams



  • Recommended by TR
Philips Fidelio L1


Our Score:


Philips says it tried to make the Fidelio L1 headphones as accurate and neutral as possible, closer to something like the AKG Q701 than their obvious high street rivals, like the House of Marley Destiny TTR and Monster Beats by Dr. Dre Studio.

First, let's cover the good. These headphones offer great clarity and better bass management than we expect to see in a set we're not embarrassed to wear out of the house. The top-end isn't ultra-smooth and laid-back like the top at-home Sennheiser HD 650 headphones, but it is accurate and well-rendered as promised, boasting an uncoloured take on the source material.

Philips Fidelio L1 cups

There was something nagging away at our ears that took a while to identify, though. The Fidelio L1 tick a lot of boxes instantly - voluminous but not too heavy bass, good top-end and a seemingly versatile signature - but after a while we couldn't get over the sense that there's something slightly unsatisfying about it.

Then we realised that there's a cloying sense to the low-mid range that robs the bottom end of its impact and detracts from the other-wise impressive transparency of the upper registers. It could be identified as warmth, but it doesn't feel like a positive aspect in-situ. Thankfully, there is a solution.

We noticed an improvement in mid-range openness when the Fidelio L1 were used with a headphone amplifier. Even the ultra-portable, low-cost Fiio E6 miniature headphone amp had a positive effect, letting the bottom-end reclaim its lost impact. The bass is there - quite a lot of it, in fact - it just gets the limelight stolen from it by the upper bass and low-mids.

In an at-home headphone, needing a headphone amp for best results isn't too much of an issue at this enthusiast level, but it may put off those who just prefer to sling the things on and go - especially as the 26Ohm impedance suggests they'll be happy to work off a player's output alone. In our opinion, the sonic benefits are worth the extra effort of an amp, though. With that bit of extra power, they offer an extremely enjoyable listen - rich, detailed and lots of fun for a set that's self-consciously serious. It's also possible that these 'phones will bed in a bit more after extended listening, as we found with the Phiaton PS 500.

Fidelio l1

The Philips Fidelio L1 have the design chops to work as a dual-purpose for many - as a music/gaming/TV headset while you're on the sofa, and as entertainment on the way to work. No, they won't block out as much sound as the Bose QuietComfort 15 or the Beats Solo HD, but they will stop people around you from hearing your tunes. And that's the main thing, in our (terribly socially conscious) book.

If you're out for a set of headphones to use exclusively at home - and don't live with noisy children of housemates, though, you can get an airier and more open sound from an all-out open set of headphones. The Fidelio L1 do benefit from their semi-open design sonically, but the sound stage is only wide for a closed set - not an open one.


The Philips Fidelio L1 are semi-open headphones that want to stay at your side whether you're at home or out around town. For the most part, they do the job perfectly. They are extremely well-made, look pretty natty and are comfortable as long as it's not steaming hot outside. Their sound is clear at the top-end, but benefits from amplification to relax the otherwise bundled-up low-mid range.

Overall Score


Scores In Detail

  • Design & Features 9
  • Sound Quality 8
  • Value 8

Lies Janssen

April 11, 2013, 6:40 am

For years I’ve listened to my music at work with those little in-ear headphones. And I was
perfectly happy with them. Until I got my hands on the Philips Fidelio L1 a few weeks ago. A world of difference! The clear sounds blew me away. Big pro is that even with the volume down, you can still enjoy all aspects of your music.

The quality of the sound is excellent and crystal clear, thanks to the High Definition neodymium- drivers. Each music variety displays well and with subtle music such as jazz all minute details are audible. When listening to Dance music, the bass drums ‘vibrated’ less than they did with my old in-ears, but only with a windows application. When combined with an Apple product, bass intensity is easier to adapt.

Design and use
The design is elegant and minimalistic, very sophisticated. The headphones features can be adapted in every little detail to perfectly fit your head. The over-ear ear shells are very comfortable, even after a long while, with minimal sweating. The materials are durable, but the headphone is still light in weight. There are 3 cords, which can be couples, so the length of the cord is adaptable. One of the cords comes with a remote for an I Phone. It works like a charm, but only combined with Apple.
According to Philips, the Fidelio L1 is the ideal headphone for on the road, but for me, it is to big for that. The chocks of for example stepping disturb the music. The carrier bag is very pretty, but seems a little poor as protection.

Interaction with the environment
Despite the semi-open back architecture of the ear shells, a passer-by will not notice any music escaping the Fidelio L1. Even with big bass drums, the isolation is perfect. For the listener, the isolation to the environment is perfectly balanced. Little to no
noise enters, except for loud noises such as a phone ringing or your boss yelling.


April 12, 2013, 11:47 am

I was given the chance to test the new Philips Fidelio L1 For "The Insiders".
I had been looking for a new headphone set to replace my old In-ears. It needed to comply with a few demands: 1) I do not want to be disturbed by the chatter noise of my colleagues when I'm being all focussed at work and 2) I don't want toe disturb my colleagues with my music when I’m listening to noise they don’t like.
3) I also don’t want to have that fatigue feeling, which one sometimes can have after using those in-ears for a long period. And 4) the headphone set has to fit within my backpack, along with all my other stuff.

The L1 looks great, it really does and has really handy features, like the connector-plug close to the headphone, and a cable with a volume and pause-button. A second cable with a removable big-plug, twistable ear shells for transportation and (also important) a sublime sound. It looks really nice with the black and aluminium parts and the fine Italian leather. The head mount fits really good without a pressing feeling, and is easily to adjust to the correct size without sliding back to the former position. The cushions are made of memory-foam and fit very well around the ears, where they seal off the background noise better then I expected. The connector which is about 10 cm below the left shell is made to release tension on the cable if necessary. Mounted in one of the two included cables is a three-button-usage which supports Apple devices for volume and pause. This three button usage in the cable is actually more. It controles the volume. Can make your music pause and continue and can make you skip a track forward.On the backside there is a small pinhole size microphone.

After having used the headphones for several full days now, I must say I didn’t feel any discomfort, unless I must admir my ears are getting warmer after a couple of hours. But I like to think that goes for all over-ears headphones. I did not receive any comment from my colleagues about my taste of music and I wasn’t disturbed by background noises. I must admit hearing things in the music of which I didn’t now they were there, it is like experiencing the music again, and that is something I really like, like the music is being surrounded inside my head.

I am originated in the primal years of portable music devices, and I am used to headphones being as small as possible, so for me this is an unusual large format for a set of headphones. However, compared with the headphones available on the market at present day, the Philips Fidelio L1 fits quite perfect.
The L1 is said being perfect for on-the-go as well as good to use at the office or at home. Being on a bike, I think it blocks too much of the traffic noise to navigate safely, but while using transport transportation, I think it is good to use for blocking neighbour noise, where as your neighbour don't need to get bothered by your music.

- Great sound experience
- Comfortable and easy to use
- Nice and solid finish
- Everything seems to be just correct
- 3 button usage mounted in the cable
- Very complete set

- Maybe leather is not the best material if you are using this device on your bike, in the pouring rain.
- The soft travelbag might not be the best protection

My conclusion: a nice device, with a lot of good properties. For users who, like myself, don’t have an absolute hearing this is a very good headphone.

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